Remember me?

So the other day when I was coming back from the airport I was on Linking road (about 10 minutes from home) when I saw this little boy who I had taken a photo of a month or two back when he was selling flowers on the road. (Photo on MDP here) I was bombarded with several other people coming up to the rick trying to sell magazines or household supplies, but as soon as he saw me he got a huge grin on his face and waved. He then came up and said “you remember me?” and when I said of course he got very excited. He asked where I was going and if I was leaving or going home. I said I was going home and he said “ok”. He then shook my hand and said goodbye and walked away with a big smile.
I was so excited that he actually remembered me!! Often foreigners just blend together to the Indians here and they can’t tell the difference between us too often (or at the least get confused often), so it was nice that he remembered me.
Even the rickshaw walla was excited that 1. I spoke hindi to him (he said “accha hindi bolte hai” – good hindi speaking) and that I was known in the neighborhood!
This is one of the things that makes life special here in Mumbai – people know me now. The guards of buildings all down my lane know me as the “billi walli” (cat seller is the literal translation, but sort of means cat lady), the shop owners let me take things without paying if I don’t have cash on me, delivery boys that come to the house often wave when they see me other places, etc. The subway knows what I want before I even reach the counter; the street sandwich shop starts preparing my sandwich before I even step up to the counter, rickshaws sometimes know where i am going without me telling them (i.e. to my home or to my work) etc.
It just really feels like a community. This is something I have found difficult to achieve in the US. I almost had it for a bit in SF where the shop owner knew I liked Green Tea Vitamin water and would let me know as soon as I came in if they had it in stock, but then the owners changed and it that connection was finished.
This is also why it is difficult to even contemplate leaving my neighborhood — having to recreate all these connections in a new one would feel too much like starting over and it just finally feels comfortable here.
We’ll see if we can manage to stay in the same apartment for another year (year 4) without our rent being increased again… if not, I will have to start searching for something new in the immediate area only!!

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